The BLM, Ranchers, and Domestic Terrorism Part I: United States v. Dwight and Steven Hammond

Beaver Dam 3

Demands for public land use are constantly escalating, and priorities for use of these lands have  shifted significantly in recent years. The changes are most pronounced with respect to lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.” ~Deborah L. Donahue, The Western Range Revisted

***New Information at the end of the article***

Two Oregon ranchers, a father and son, Dwight and Steven Hammond, were tried and convicted for arson under the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 in 2012 after igniting fires without required permits and/or during burn bans that spread to public BLM land in 2001 and 2006.

The mandatory minimum sentence under the anti-terrorism law is five years. On October 30, 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan gave the Hammond’s lesser sentences than the required mandatory minimum under the law because he believed their actions were not consistent with the intent of the law by citing the Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) and that to sentence them according to the letter of the law was “grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses here (Capitol Press)” and would go against his conscience (see court transcripts). He sentenced Dwight Hammond to three months in prison, Steven Hammond to one year and one day, and fined them $400,000 for damages.

Unfortunately for the Hammonds, changing the sentence was outside of the Judge’s purview and the government lawyers appealed. In February 2014, a three judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (see Hammond Opinion) ruled in favor of the government saying, “A minimum sentence mandated by the statute is not a suggestion that courts have discretion to disregard,” and stated that the Hammonds must be returned to court for resentencing. That sentencing took place in October 2015.

According to an article on Oregon Live, Judge Stephen J. Murphy III said in his opinion, “Even a fire in a remote area has the potential to spread to more populated areas, threaten local property and residents or endanger the firefighters called to battle the blaze.” He noted that a teenage relative of the Hammonds was nearly burned by the fire and pointed out the damage to grazing land as well.

“Given the seriousness of arson, a five-year sentence is not grossly disproportionate to the offense,” the opinion states, in sending their cases back to the district court.

The article went on to quote Kelly Zusman, the appellate chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who applauded the decision saying, “The Hammonds’ actions in setting all of those fires and endangering their teen relative and BLM firefighters fell squarely within the type of conduct Congress wanted to see punished with a five-year sentence,” she said. “It’s important that the public know that setting fires to public lands — regardless of whether it’s a building in a city or sagebrush in Eastern Oregon — will result in federal jail time.”

At first blush this case seems ridiculous, but does it signify the increasing value of public lands and that to devalue or destroy them is an act of domestic terrorism?

If this is the direction the government is heading, and hotly contested controversy over a commodity is any indicator, one can reasonably come to the conclusion that land management issues are going to continue to surface and legal action is going to increase. The Bermuda Triangle that is land management, formed by the government, traditional users, and new progressive users, may have just produced a precedent setting case that rather than being ridiculous is indicative.

Land management has always been controversial, but the tide may be shifting on a much more significant level. Whereas the interests controlling land has largely been that of the extractive industries, such as mining, timber harvest, and cattle grazing, the economic driver today is overwhelmingly environmental and recreational tourism. This economic shift is putting power into the hands of new, progressive industries and people, many of whom have an environmental bent or ethic, who are shaping the debate over the use and management of public lands, marked by a growing interest in conservation and ecosystem management, and it reveals itself through changing priorities within land management agencies.

As Deborah L. Donahue states her book, The Western Range Revisited, “Today millions of people use the public lands for recreation; federal grazing permit holders number about 20,000. Recreational users of BLM lands generate hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and revenues for local businesses and equipment manufacturers and retailers. Livestock are permitted to use more than two-thirds of all public lands, yet those lands contribute but a tiny fraction of national livestock production. Revenues to the federal treasury from fees paid by stockmen fail even to cover the BLM’s costs to administer grazing activities.”

When we look at policies through the American paradigm of providing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, we are now seeing, more than ever before, that a healthy environment, abundant recreational opportunities, and human health and well-being are significant goods, and those goods are driving a huge economic sector. As a result, industry leaders and the public within this growing sector have more clout and support in shaping policy decisions.

Using this case as the litmus, this essay will look at the actions of the Hammonds, the anti-terrorism act as a legal tool for public land managers, and the consistent application of the law across states, specifically in the Cliven Bundy case.

While all land management agencies have to deal with competing interests and conflict, none have to more so, seemingly, than the BLM. One of the reasons for this may be the changing management requirements and priorities of the BLM to include protection.

BLM land is largely rangeland, which refers to lands that are, or have historically been, used by domestic livestock, and that until recent history was undesirable interior land managed for grazing and mineral extraction. Because it wasn’t National Park quality land or forests, the users were small in number and had the land to themselves. The BLM had no real reason to strictly regulate or restrict users because there weren’t a lot of them and there weren’t diverse groups competing for use.

That all changed in the 1970s with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act, but it really came to a head in 1996 when President Clinton designated Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, creating the first National Monument managed by the BLM. That designation instituted protection as one of the BLMs managing mandates. He went on to designate 14 more national monuments on BLM land.

All of the above, set forth by Congress or by presidential proclamation, required the BLM to consider the health of the range and manage the land in a manner that would improve the quality of rangelands. But special designations bring not only new users to include environmentalists, recreationists, and scientists, but also increased awareness and scrutiny.

Suddenly those who heretofore had unfettered access to the land had to share with a diverse group of users; furthermore, they were slowly limited in their uses of the land as well. This, not surprisingly, has made many of those traditional users angry, leading them to level charges of government land grabbing and over-reach. But according to the article, Clinton’s National Monuments: A Democrat’s Undemocratic Acts, by Albert C. Lin:

“There was [is] little substance to the “land grab” charges, as the land in question already belonged to the federal government and was therefore subject to disposition under the Property Clause. What such characterizations emphasized, however, was that certain state and local parties were accustomed to using the public lands as their own-and viewed them as such-and that the new land designation had suddenly disrupted their expectations concerning permitted uses of those lands.”

While one can only speculate as to how the Hammond’s viewed the public land their cattle grazed on, their actions are quite revealing and leave little room for doubt. It appears that their troubles came to a head in 1994 when they were arrested for blocking the Fish & Wildlife Service for building a fence that would keep the Hammond’s cattle out of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. The Hammond’s claimed that they had water rights to the watering hole being fenced out and that they had a right to use the road through the refuge because it was a historic right-of-way. Because they had never been required to have a permit to use it before, they believed they had historic rights to use it.

It appears, however, that prior to this blowup the Refuge managers had had many run-ins with the Hammonds. According to a High Country News article published in 1996, “Hammond allegedly made death threats against previous managers in 1986 and 1988 and against Cameron, the current manager, in 1991 and again this year.” The problems managers at the refuge had with Hammond was that they did not follow the rules and regulations for grazing or moving cattle through the refuge and that because they had repeatedly ignored the FWS’s requests to abide by the rules, the FWS had no choice but to build the fence.

The High Country news article goes on to say, “According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dwight Hammond had repeatedly violated a special permit that allowed him to move his cows across the refuge only at specific times. In June, refuge manager Forrest Cameron notified Hammond that his right to graze cattle and grow hay on the lush waterfowl haven south of Burns was revoked. The feds also said they planned to build a fence along the refuge boundary to keep Hammond’s cows out of an irrigation canal.”

When the feds showed up to build the fence the Hammond’s placed their Caterpillar scraper on the boundary line in their way and disabled it. Only after a tow-truck arrived to remove the Caterpillar did Hammond jump in and move it, almost hitting an agent with it, all while yelling obscenities at the federal agents.

Not unlike the situation in Bunkerville, when the Hammonds were arrested, local ranchers rallied to their cause. The High Country News article states that around 500 “incensed” ranchers showed up at a rally in Burns, OR, to protest. Furthermore, the speaker of the American Land Rights Association, formerly the National Inholders Association, Chuck Cushman, “…issued a fax alert urging Hammond’s supporters to flood refuge employees with protest calls. Some employees reported getting threatening calls at home.”

Cushman also planned to print a poster with the names and photos of federal agents and refuge managers involved in the arrest and distribute it nationally. According to the article he said, “We have no way to fight back other than to make them pariahs in their community,” he said. Due to the pressure of these ranchers and groups, nothing much came of the situation.

This leads us to 2001 when Dwight and Steven Hammond lit a fire on their property allegedly to kill invasive species in order to improve the grazing conditions for their cattle. They burned down 139 acres of public BLM land on Steens Mountain next to their property that happened to be a part of their allotment. According to the testimony of grandson and nephew, Dusty Hammond, who was 13 years old at the time and present for the burn, however, Steven handed him matches so as to “light up the whole country on fire.”

According to Dusty’s testimony he walked the fence line dropping matches. When the flames got to be eight to ten feet tall he almost got burned over by the fire and had to seek shelter in a creek. Over lunch Dusty’s grandfather and uncle instructed him to “keep my mouth shut; nobody needed to know anything about the fire.”

Later, Dusty said that his grandfather flew his Super Cub over the scene to gauge the effect the fire had on juniper there. The burned land was taken out of production for two growing seasons as a result of the fire. A Utah man, Dennis Nelson, testified that he and his son Dusty Nelson met a hunting party, presumably the Hammond party, on the BLM tract that morning. Both men described a clear day marred by smoke that grew heavier as the morning wore on (OPB).

While Dwight and Steven claimed the fire got out of their control and that they intended for the fire to only burn on their property, the account by Dusty not only contradicts them, they clearly had something to gain by burning the adjacent BLM land.  According to range cons working for the BLM, the fire did improve grazing conditions on the land – land mind you that the Hammond’s had grazing permits on.

It must be noted here that there are questions as to the credibility of Dusty’s testimony. According to the Bundy Ranch blog, Dusty had been “suffering with mental problems for years.” They further state that “the Judge noted that Dusty’s memories as a 13 year-old boy were not clear or credible” and claim that the “Hammond family believes he was manipulated and expressed nothing but love for their grandson.”

Dusty lived on the Hammond ranch until he was 15 and then distanced himself from the family.

In 2006, after lightning strikes ignited wild fires on adjacent public land near the Hammond ranch, the Hammond’s back-burned on their property to protect winter feed. They did this during a burn ban and did not give the BLM notice of their intent to burn. They ended up burning an acre of public land on Krumbo Butte. The indictment alleged that the fire threatened to trap four BLM firefighters, one of whom confronted Dwight Hammond at the fire scene.

According to The Oregonian, the U.S. sued the Hammonds and their ranch in July 2011, saying the government spent $600,000 battling the blazes they set, which “endangered individuals, wildlife, structures, equipment and threatened the public health, interest and safety.”

A superseding indictment accused the men of setting fires to interfere with BLM employees and firefighters trying to stop the spread of wildfires. They also were accused of using fire to destroy U.S. property, witness tampering, conspiracy and other charges.

Government court papers suggest the Hammonds’ were displeased that the “BLM ‘takes too long’ to complete the required environmental studies before doing controlled rangeland burning.”

In 2012, after deliberating for several hours, the jury returned a partial verdict. They found the two men guilty of intentionally and maliciously damaging real property of the United States by fire, in violation of  of 18 U.S.C. § 844(f)(1), based on their respective roles in the 2001 Hardie-Hammond Fire near Steens Mountain, where BLM leased grazing rights to them. Steven Hammond was also convicted of arson in the 2006 Krumbo Butte Fire on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Steens Mountain.

The jury also acquitted the Hammonds of some charges and failed to reach a verdict on others, including conspiracy charges brought against Steven and Dwight. The government also dropped other allegations of setting other fires in 2006.

Update 1/11/2016: I decided to look into wildland fire arson cases to compare against the Hammond case. Arson is a real crime with real damages and dangers. According to this article published in 2010, the Hammonds have burned 45,000 acres over 28 years. High Country News, Some notable arson wildfire cases in the west:

Update 1/4/2016:

The U.S. Attorney in Oregon wrote a letter to the people of Harney County, OR in regard to the Hammond case. It appears that the Hammond’s illegally slaughtered seven deer before setting fire to the BLM land. Two Utah hunters witnessed it and testified to it. Here is the letter:

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U.S. Attorney Billy Williams explains the circumstances of the prosecution and sentencing of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond for arson.
Contributed by: Les Zaitz, The Oregonian


Posted on November 20, 2015, in Nature and the Environment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Greta- If you have not read it you might like Edward K. Muller’s DEVOTO’S WEST. I read it again recently shaking my head at how much the “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the 1940’s sounds just like the rebellion of the 80’s which sounds just like the Ken Ivory, Mike Noel Rebellion III today. Like DeVoto said, these cowboys never rest. -Mark

    • Thanks for the suggestion Mark, I love Devoto. You should read, The Western Range Revisited,” if you haven’t. I am reading it right now and it is comprehensive, well written, and enlightening.

  2. Good tip. Kirsten has worked with Donahue and book is on the shelf . . . unread by me. Thanks for your work and words, Greta.

    • Can I ask where you stand on this? Do you agree with this Congressman? I don’t have the time to listen to the whole clip right now, but I watched five minutes of it. In that five minutes I have already heard this Greg Walden appeal to emotion in order to make an exception for ranchers possibly, but for the Hammonds for sure. He states that the Hammonds were only back burning, but according to the court report, the 139 acre fire they lit was intentionally lit to burn up the whole hill side to improve grazing for their cattle. He then goes on to politicize this issue along ideological lines by targeting only Pres. Clinton and Obama and then says that President Clinton “threatened” to establish a National Monument on Steens Mtn. The President does not threaten to create national monuments, they proclaim them. Mr. Walden may disagree with monument designation and that’s fine, but it is within a President’s authority to designate them. That is also an American tradition – like ranching. Furthermore, it seems to me that it would be a blessing for those in rural Oregon to get a national monument because it grows the economy. A diverse economy is much better than a stagnant, mono-economy. I will finish watching this when I get the time. In the meantime, check out this article on protecting lands and the economic benefits that follow:

  3. Nice dodge, sophistry, but I believe you believe what you wrote. I wouldn’t expect anything different from someone that’s a race baiter injecting “white privilege”. Ever heard of Wayne Hage? Watch the whole video next time before replying…

    • Nice dodge of what. Read before you write. I already answered your queation. Yes, I know who Wayne Hague is. Next time you reply, say something substantive. Name calling rather than debating the argument is poor form and shows you to be childish and emotional.

      • You offered up asshole “appeal to emotion” rhetoric. Your whole comment comes off as snarky opinion. What I really want is to read your comment after you watch the whole video. Until then I’ll refrain from addressing your remarks.

      • In order to have an intellectually honest debate you have to 1. Let your opponent know where you stand, and 2. Refrain from general blanket statements. Saying, “Nice bit of propoganda” and then sharing a link leaves the other person guessing as to your intent or point. In order for me dodge something I have to be aware of what it is I am dodging. If you had been up front about where you stand and what you wanted, I might have known. So here’s the deal: I will finish watching the clip like I told you I would and I will give you my opinion after you have stated where you stand, i.e., what your argument is, and explain how I am race baiting and what about my argument is “emotional appeal rhetoric.” Then maybe we can have a fair and mature conversation.

      • I’ll be here.

      • Anti512, I finished watching the video clip. First, I will say that most of what Rep. Walden said had virtually nothing to do with the Hammonds. He is clearly biased in favor of the Hammonds and used emotional and ideological arguments to support his view. This makes sense if he has known the Hammonds for 20 years. It’s hard not to be biased toward people we know and like and it’s equally easy to give them the benefit of the doubt where in other cases we might not. This does not mean that what Rep. Walden said is not valid, it only shows that he may not be the most objective voice.

        Now, I will try to go in order of his points or arguments. Rep. Walden’s little speech about the size of his county and the population is a non argument. It has nothing to do with the law, with enforcing the law, or the Hammond case, but it’s a neat way to try make a case. And if he is trying to make that case, it makes my case that the law is not applied equally for rural people.

        I already mentioned his biased view on national monuments. Again, presidents do not “threaten” to designate national monuments, they consider them. A lot of the American people Rep. Walden is so fond of referring to support monument designations and want more. When it comes to national priorities state representatives are not often the voices to listen to because they operate from a local perspective. Which they should, but national monuments are inherently “national” not local. When they are considered and if they get designated, it is for the entire country, not just the county in which they reside. As for President Obama needing to make it known to him if he is going to designate a monument, the President does not have to operate on Rep. Walden’s insistence or timeline.

        It seems to me that eastern Oregon could use an economic boost that would come from a monument designation. It is cute that Rep. Walden put down Keen shoe company, but is makes up one of the most lucrative economic industries in the country. It would be interesting to see if Rep. Walden has supported oil and gas at the expense of local people (the American people) outside of Oregon in the name of the economy. Sadly in our country, money talks and those with the most have the most sway. Ranchers unfortunately make up a sliver of the economy.

        As for his story about the Steens Mtn. Cooperative Management Act, it sounds great. If the BLM was required by law to fence out cattle and it did not, then it is not abiding by the law and should do it. But I am having a hard time understanding what that has to do with the Hammond case.

        As for fire. So because fire is ravaging our rangelands already the Hammonds should be allowed to start their own? That is a pathetic argument. And as I said before, the Hammonds may have claimed they were back burning, but their relative, who was an eye witness, said otherwise and they were convicted not of back burning, but of arson. The Hammonds could have plead to lesser crimes, but chose to fight the Anti-terrorism charge and take their chances with a jury. They knew full well that they would be facing five years when they made that choice. I can be sympathetic, but but my sympathy only goes so far as it appears their plight is largely self-inflicted. I’m not sure if there are other federal laws that cover arson that they could have been charged under but that would be interesting to know. I do, however, recognize that often times what we are privy to is not the whole story. If more facts came out it is possible that it could shape my opinion in a different way.

        As for federal wildland firefighters burning on private land, I have a hard time believing they would do that without permission or without pre-authorized agreements with landowners. I would have to see the details of the case Rep. Walden reported to validate it because I don’t think he’s representing the facts accurately.

        I’ve been on fires in eastern Oregon. They rage fast and are very hard to put out, especially with erratic winds. The BLM has made the rangeland in Oregon a huge priority and has invested a lot of money into getting those fires out quickly. Because wildland firefighters cannot get the fires out quickly does not hold that therefore ranchers can start their own. The potential for the Hammond fire to spread much further than 139 acres is verifiable. They are lucky it didn’t spread more, take any lives, burn close to buildings or houses, or require more resources. I was on a fire in Oregon where we were up all night trying to protect a huge haystack in a ravine and keep the fire from coming down into a small town. Those fires are scary and hard to put down if you don’t get them fast and while they are small.

        This leads me to Rep. Walden’s only substantial point and that is that Congress probably did not intend for the Anti-terrorism law to apply in this way. But this is where my opinion comes in. I believe that public land is valuable – as valuable as a federal building and should hold the same weight and I believe that value is going to increase exponentially with time. I’m not a fan of minimum mandatory sentences and believe that is a point worth arguing and changing. I have respect for the Hammonds for accepting the punishment of their crimes, unlike the Bundys. I don’t know if it is possible under this law, but it seems to me the Hammonds would not serve the full five years – that they may get an early release.

        But again, many others have served what appeared to be excessive prison sentences and didn’t have congressmen appealing Congress on their behalf. Do you know who Tim DeChristopher is? He was a young college student who engaged in civil disobedience by bidding on BLM oil & gas leases. He racked up over $1 million in leases. Despite the fact that he had no prior criminal record, he raised the money to pay the leases, and the auction was later found to be illegal, he still got sentenced to and served two years in prison. Do you think that was fair? It seems excessive to me, but he served the time is out now.

        This brings me to Rep. Walden’s emotional appeal to military service. I hate it when politicians do this. I am a veteran and it makes me sick when those who send us to war cry about dead soldiers when it suits their agenda. War kills people. It has killed many Americans across this country; Harney County is no exception. It would be interesting to see if Rep. Walden voted in favor of the wars in the Middle East. I understand that it is emotional when it is your people, the people you know, but it happens to people across the country in places where other representatives have to face exactly what Rep. Walden does. That is a non argument.

        In the end, I think that Rep. Walden made a great case for people already inclined to believe what he does, but his argument is lacking in substance and is heavily shaped by a narrow and local perspective. While that is as it should be for a state representative, it is not as it should be for a national perspective.

    • LOL. Wow.

  4. Waiting for my other comments to appear….are you censoring?

  5. “As for fire. So because fire is ravaging our rangelands already the Hammonds should be allowed to start their own? That is a pathetic argument. And as I said before, the Hammonds may have claimed they were back burning, but their relative, who was an eye witness, said otherwise and they were convicted not of back burning, but of arson”

    Yes and it worked. Only thing pathetic here is you. Their grandson has mental health issues. He is 24 and was 13 at the time of the incident. He also had a rough relationship with Dwight, could easily be manipulated, and obviously wasn’t credible.

    We do not have the transcripts so we do not know what the witnesses testified to or their cross examinations. What we do know is that it wasn’t enough to convince the jury.

    Back burning is not something you get charged with genius, it’s not a crime.

    “The Hammonds could have plead to lesser crimes, but chose to fight the Anti-terrorism charge and take their chances with a jury.”

    Why do you suppose they did this? Maybe because they were honest, salt of the earth people who hadn’t done anything wrong and vowed to fight for the truth. I’ve been there. The stress, trauma, and pressure is overwhelming.

    They should have never been tried under a terrorism law in the first place. The law was not intended for this kind of situation. But this is what overzealous prosecutors and bureaucrats do and you sociopaths like you are perfectly fine with it.

    • What mental issues does the grandson suffer from? Do you know?

    • Everything you are stating is conjecture. We can both do that all day long. I can just as easily speculate that the Hammond home was not a healthy place for Dusty and may be the reason he left at such a young age and now suffers from some sort of mental illness. Furthermore, suffering from a mental illness does not necessarily mean that the person isn’t stating the truth. Apparently Dusty was convincing enough for the jury to convict on arson charges. Unless you have EVIDENCE to the contrary, everything you are saying is speculation. Sure, we can also both speculate as to whether or not Dusty was manipulated into giving his testimony, but until there is some evidence of that, it is just speculation.

      As for back burning not being something you get charged with, I know that. Clearly you couldn’t follow my point without me being very specific. My point is that they were charged with intentionally setting fire to public land. They apparently tried to make the case that they were back burning, but it did not convince the jury.

      I will concede to your point that the Hammonds’ may have been innocent and hence that is why they did not plead out. But that is just a concession that it’s possible. From the evidence I have seen it doesn’t seem likely. They might also have been guilty and gambled that the jury would not be convinced by the prosecutor’s case, which was very possible.

      I would also tentatively agree that the terrorism law seems excessive, but only if there is not another arson law under which they could have been charged. I also agree that there are huge problems with our justice and legal systems, but you don’t fight them by only pointing them out in cases that you agree with while cheering it on in other cases – which was my point to begin with. If you really want to make changes, everyone has to collectively come together to condemn abuses in all cases, with all classes, and all races. Otherwise, you are just a lone voice upset about your own self-interests. “The Government” everyone loves to blame will always win as long as people are segregated into groups only concerned with their own interests and well-being.

      I do not like arguments that devolve into name calling and what is tantamount to screaming matches on a schoolyard playground. As of yet, you have not offered a single compelling or intelligent argument for me to consider or debate. You have only raised arguments that that are speculative and biased and which we could argue forever without reaching any sort of common ground. You are obviously passionate and care, which is good, but it has also made you argue your case in a nasty, personal, and immature way. It is clear that you just want to attack me rather than the arguments. I’m certain there is nothing I can say that you will hear. To continue in this manner is a waste of my time. For my part in this rather childish exchange, I am sorry. I wish you all the best. Take care.

      • Were they not convicted of only 2 of 19 charges, those 2 being the ones they admitted to starting on their own land?

      • I was under the impression that only one of the fires was started on their property and it was the smaller one. They were back burning due to lightning ignited fires near their property and that one spread onto public land, but it was negligible if I remember right. The 139 acre fire, however, I don’t think so. I believe they dropped matches along their property line with the intent to burn their grazing allotment – at least according to what I have read. I assume the prosecutor showed they had motive to burn the allotment because fire improves the land for grazing. After the fire, grass grows back. I don’t know for sure, but that is probably why the range technician testified that the fire improved the range for grazing. The reason the jury probably found the Hammonds guilty of arson for these charges mostly boils down to intent (the Hammonds were upset the BLM was not doing prescribed burns quickly enough), the nephews testimony, the wildland firefighter’s testimony, and the Utah hunters’ testimonies. I’m not sure if the Hammonds argued they were just back burning on their property for that one or not – I assume they did. According to what I have read, the BLM warned them many times not to burn. The fact that the jury only came back with a partial verdict is indicative that the prosecutor did not win handily, but rather, marginally.

      • So I decided to start looking into widland fire arson cases. Funny enough, there is a long history of wildland firefighters starting fires in order to get work. Anyway, I stumbled upon the Hayman fire in Colorado and started digging around. Though Wikipedia is not the most reliable source, it seems to cover the basics. A local wildland firefighter ignited it. It was a huge and devastating fire. But she got six years in prison and 15 years of probation. Her actions caused much worse damage than the Hammonds by many magnitudes but if you start looking at the costs of putting wildland fires down, the danger to human life, etc., you can see that it’s a serious offense. There is a lot more information out there on this fire, but here is the wiki link:

      • Here is another interesting one. Hammonds are last on the list and it says they have burnt down 45,000 acres over 28 years. I don’t have time to search around for more information to back this up, but HCN is a news source that can’t put up false information. I would assume this information is accurate and if so, they have a long history of arson and were not just guilty of back burning or igniting 139 acres. In light of this information five years seems reasonable and consistent with other cases. The anti-terrorism law may have been a bad choice from a PR standpoint, as it seems like the Hammonds could have faced five years or more under other laws and it wouldn’t have caused the stir that the word “terrorism” did.

      • You make a lot of assumptions and omit facts that counter the governments narrative..

        The letter from the US attorney is an example of lying by omission. In said letter the attorney discusses witnesses and what they testified to. We do not have the transcript. We do not have the cross examinations.

        The US attorney omits that the prosecution was given 6 days to present it’s case, the defense 1 day. He further omits that facts and evidence was not entered into evidence that would support that they had no malicious intent.

        No mention that the the county dropped the 2006 charges. No animal carcasses were found. No damage to the land. No mention that the BLM has been after the Hammond’s land for decades. No mention that they were coerced to give BLM first right of refusal to buy the land. No mention that the nephew was 13 at the time, 24 at time of the trial. No mention that all charges would be dropped if they would deed their Steens Mountain land over to the government…

        A long history of arson, please. BLM has a long history of arson.

        45000/28=1607 acres

        I know the truth lies somewhere between but your probably’s and assumptions fall way short, lying by omission.

      • You’re doing it again. You are saying things you have no business saying In order for you to call me a liar by omission you have to prove that I am willfully omitting onforfation in order to deceive people. You cannot do that. We need to agree to disagee. I hope this blog you are referring me to is as unbiased as you claim I should be.

      • I read all of your articles that were “deeply researched.” What a joke. Clearly you are just looking for information that supports what you already believe. The Conservative Treehouse is just a conspiracy site that puts together loose information to infer conspiracies. Okay, so Obama is trying to steal the Hammond’s land and to do that he put Amanda Marshall in as a federal prosecutor. Yeah, that’s what happened.

        As for unbiased, clearly you care nothing about objective reporting. You all but call High Country News reporting lies and then send me this article in range magazine written by a friend of the family. My research isn’t shitty, I just don’t engage in conspiracy theories, conjecture, and hysteria that tickle the ears of the likes of you. I clearly state when I am making an assumption and when it is my opinion (neither of your articles’ authors do that). That is called honesty.

        Just because you disagree with it doesn’t mean I haven’t done my research and just asserting your opinion, like you have done through out this entire discussion, doesn’t make it true. You have to back it up with something: either connect dots that are logical and make sense, or use evidence. You have done neither.

      • OK, you did a shitty job researching your article. There ya feel better?

      • When you act like a vicious brute in a discussion you give the other person the right to stop listening. Clearly you cannot self regulate and be civil and therefore I will regulate how much trash I allow on my site. I suppose being anonymous makes you real brazen in what you will say and clearly there is no low too low for you. You are an emotionally unstable person to engage with and I am a fool to continue trying.

        The Range Magazine article and the Livestock News article are both good and well-written, but clearly represent a ranchers only perspective. If those articles represent the whole truth then what has happened to the Hammonds is certainly a miscarriage of justice.

      • Go kick rocks. I used the conservativetreehouse because they have produced court documents.

        Their timeline is no different than those found else where.

        You dumb lefties are so afraid of private land owners owning these federal lands. I wonder what you will do when the bankers want to collateralize it all for debts and lock you ” do gooders” out. Funny thing is they are some of the biggest financiers of the environmental movement…lmao!

        You are the only mental case here. I just enjoy flaming you.

        I’m not a republican either, I know injustice when I see it. I’m also a good researcher.

        So why did you omit any of the Hammond’s story?

        Why haven’t you read the court documents? And a letter from a US attorney doesn’t count.

        You know what you do in court when an attorney tries to gives testimony? You object and tell the court to put him on the stand under penalty of perjury. Then you watch them squirm.

  6. We do not have the transcripts so we do not know what the witnesses testified to or their cross examinations. What we do know is that it wasn’t enough to convince the jury.

    Clarification…convince them of the charge of poaching. What I meant.

  7. You are repeating yourself. Once is enough.

  8. “the American paradigm of providing the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” Since when is the communist manifesto now the “American paradigm” ????????????? Your entire post is certainly suspect in its origins due to your attempt to change the character of the American ideal…

    • Communist manifesto? Please explain. Are you familiar with the European philosophers that influenced our founding fathers? I suppose you can suspect the origins of my post but I think you should probably make sure you know what they are first.

  9. The story you tell is well constructed. However, your confusion of the dates that Marx and Engels wrote with the dates of the philosophy that led to the founders’ choices for a constitutional, republican government fly beyond the pale. Rather that taking that rabbit hole, the better question seems to be; why have you not researched the government actions that led to the problems at the reservation, the Bundy ranch, Kelso, and innumerable others. You, like many americans are fond of forming opinions about events from the soundbites supplied by the six corporations. Once formed, your opinion leads you to restrict your investigation to confirm the culpability of the executed rather than investigate the deeds of the executioner.

    Is it true, for instance, that the County Commissioners who bought up the Bundy Ranch grazing rights were convicted of other crimes and sent to the federal prison? (Kenny, Malone) Did your research divulge the fact that the Nevada Senator Harry Reid has holdings along the Virgin that will benefit from the Bundys loosing their ranch and their vast water rights? (Rights that were established before the Bundys bought that ranch?)( yes, I have the documents) Is it true that one of Harry Reids largest donors was also sent to prison for his irregular donation practices? Harvy Whitmore) How did the county decide to place turtle habitat next to the Bundy ranch and in a perfect location to restrict Bundy’s cattle operation?

    Have you ever heard of what happened at Kelso about the turn of the century? I thought not!

    Has your research shown that the government has been attempting to buy the Hammond ranch for the last (thirty?) years? Are you aware of any of the high handed abuses that have been fostered upon those that own property within a national forest?

    Are you cognizant of the twenty year plus fight to run the Zzyzx people off from their property?

    Have you ever heard of the bombing of the Connor Mine near Rachel by the US Air Force?

    Ghyland, If you take the pen in hand to write a story, please tell the entire story from both sides and then construct a conclusion? What you have done here is to write a well constructed apologisia on behalf of, and to the benefit of the unwitting conscripts of A21?

    • John,
      This post had nothing to do with Marxism. How you even came up with that is beyond me. What I was referring to is the philosophical argument that something is good when it is good for the greatest number of people, i.e., John Stewart Mill. I was wrong, however, that this was a philosophy that influenced the founders.
      As for all of your questions. I can’t write about what I don’t know about. This is a blog, not a historical anthology. There are many corrupt people in government and if they have broken the law, they should be brought up on charges. This is what I know about the Bundys: They have not paid their bills. They are not supposed to be grazing their cattle on public lands in which they do not have grazing permits. They believe fantasy-like notions about their rights, the constitution, and the government. I have listened to Ryan Bundy speak in public about the Constitution and it is about as ass-backwards and wrong as it can get. The Bundys chose violence and rebellion to fix their problems once they lost in court. Now they are in Oregon where they are not wanted and in a position in which they are ill prepared and look more like fools than patriots.
      I can’t speak for anything you have posted here. And if what you are writing is true and verifiable, put your sources up.

  10. Great! I will be looking forward to further posts once you become aware of the policies of the BLM, Forrest Service and others. What was the date of the first offer made by the reservation to the Hammonds to purchase their ranch?

  11. This demonizes the Hammonds. it leaves a lot out. I agree that the court transcripts were not shown. The letter from the DOJ is the only document shown in the article. The article is slanted to show the DOJ/prosecution point of view.

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